Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has told Ministers from other countries of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) grouping that South Africa is considering further economic measures, including significant infrastructure investment and developing greater levels of dynamism and competitiveness in domestic industry, to drive the country's economic recovery.
Patel on July 23 briefed attendees at the tenth Brics Trade Ministers Meeting on the South African government's response to Covid-19. He outlined national interventions and actions, and highlighted key lessons that government is drawing from the coronavirus crisis and how that is shaping thinking about the future.
He highlighted two key observations from South Africa's experience in dealing with the pandemic.
"The first observation is that solidarity and working together is critical in fighting a pandemic. And, as the pandemic is still with us, we need to now further strengthen the solidarity between ourselves, for example in: securing critical goods from each other where no local manufacturing capability currently exists, promoting investment in each other’s economies so that economic recovery is fast-tracked, and ensuring that any future vaccine is available to developing countries at affordable prices," said Patel.
The second observation he shared with his Brics counterparts is that the benefits of highly integrated supply chains come with enormous vulnerabilities when they are disrupted.
"African countries are learning the hard lesson that if we are simply exporters of raw materials and importers of medication, medical equipment and other critical goods, then our ability to ensure protection of citizens in moments like these, is compromised," Patel stated.
He added that building resilient and diversified supply chains must include building domestic manufacturing capabilities as part of building new, inclusive supply chains.
"An inclusive supply chain means that manufacturing capacity is diversified across countries and South Africa, and indeed the African continent is ready to expand production for both existing product lines and new product opportunities," he said.
"This does not entail disengaging from global trade, investment and cooperation – they remain important sources of growth and development and we will certainly need to intensify international cooperation.
"However, we do not think it wise or the right time to consider new binding global or plurilateral rules in haste at a time of such crisis. We need to retain flexibility to respond with all available policy tools to address the crisis and effect economic recovery," noted Patel.